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When influential philosophers prior to the Enlightenment such as Leibniz and Malebranche speculate about the interior life of ‘Man’ they presuppose the elect, saved man. This continues to be the case with Pierre Nicole and Jacques-Joseph Duguet, whose writings coincide with Jansenism’s turn towards a movement of political opposition to absolutism that ended up in Jacobinism. The shadows cast by predestination can still be detected even in Locke and Montesquieu, regarded as the founding figures of the Enlightenment. The theory of election would retain a subliminal presence in the history of the human sciences of the eighteenth century. So too would their increasing preoccupation with causality in psychological and social identity; out of the causes for election and reprobation came the imputation of causes for developmental normality and abnormality (‘idiocy’, ‘imbecility’ etc.) in the history of medicine.
In modern creationism, blood-language (even more than a high view of scripture) determines whether evolution can be true. In One Blood, leading creationist Ken Ham finds evolution too bloody for a good God. A good God could hardly use predation, extinction, and death as a means. For Ham, blood sets humans at one with or apart from the “dumb beasts.” But Ham drafts too narrow an atonement, where the blood of Christ makes up only for sin. Blood must also mean solidarity. Uses Irenaeus, William Jennings Bryan, Marilyn Adams, Teilhard de Chardin, Sergei Bulgakov.
The central theological questions raised for Jewish belief by the Holocaust concern the existence and nature of God. In this paper, I focus on four figures who addressed these theological questions in a serious way: Richard Rubenstein, Eliezer Berkovits, Irving Greenberg, and Hans Jonas. I show that Jonas’s argument for a limited and changing God is the most radical of these theological responses and that the radical character of his response can best be appreciated by contrasting his approach with the other three theological accounts, especially in terms of how the problem of theodicy functions in those accounts.
The chapter includes a comprehensive account of the Darwinian problem of evil, centered on evolutionary animal suffering inscribed by natural selection into the conditions of existence. The author contends that the problem arises from the unveiling of a Darwinian World by modern scientists. They have unveiled four interconnected truths about the natural realm, as it has been in the past, and as it is now. The unveilings are (1) “deep evolutionary time,” (2) a “plurality of worlds” existing successively in the planetary past, (3) “aniti-cosmic micro-monsters” that cause widespread, brutal suffering for animals, and (4) “evil inscribed,” i.e., that animal suffering in nature is not accidental, but is systemic – inscribed by natural selection into the conditions of existence for animals. It seems that the source of evolutionary evils suffered by animals is not a Fall, as traditionally alleged by theists, but the design of nature itself.
In this chapter the author considers Aesthetic Theodicy, according to which selected forms of cosmic beauty are valuable enough to justify natural evils suffered by animals. He begins by defending the use of aesthetic values in theodicy on the ground that aesthetic goods often have moral value. He then examines the classical versions of Aesthetic Theodicy, in which one appeals to cosmic harmony, balance, and overall fittingness of all parts into a beautiful and morally valuable whole. This approach fails to account well enough for the extreme disharmony, imbalance, and dysteleology in the Darwinian World, as unveiled by science. Next, he examines post-classical versions, in which one appeals to “major beauty” (so Whitehead) created by cosmic conflict and disintegrative elements of nature. He examines the specific appeal to the tragic moral beauty of evolution, particularly in predation. He argues that these approaches identify morally valuable forms of beauty, but they do not contain scenarios in which God defeats tragic evils for the victims. Nor can the appeal to tragedy account for the existence of Darwinian horrors. He concludes that perhaps sacred canonical sources can help.
Biblical and non-Biblical prophecy from the ancient Near East, in all its manifestations, is an equivalent form of divination translated through human words and gestures. Prophets do not need to be members of a guild of religious practitioners or operate within a cultic context based on learned skills. They are measured by the perceived veracity of their message and their strict adherence to the god they serve. The recording of these messages in letters or collected sayings becomes the basis for what we term “prophetic literature,” a diverse body of literary forms that at its heart demonstrates to devotees the active interest of the god(s) in human activities and endeavors. To comprehend the basic characteristics of prophetic literature in the Hebrew Bible, this study examines the social and cultural setting contributing to its development as well as the prophetic traditions that are found in documents from ancient Mesopotamia.
This chapter is focused on which moral and epistemic conditions a God-justifying account of evil must meet in order to succeed. The author proposes that such accounts are likely to fail so long as they seek to show that in allowing evil, God has met the Necessity Condition. It requires that to be justified, the evil must be necessary in an absolute sense, i.e., unavoidable, even for God. The author proposes that theists should adopt Roderick Chisholm’s Defeat Condition, instead. It requires that the moral agent “defeat” any evil that s/he allows by integrating it into a valuable whole that both outweighs the evil and could not be as valuable as it is without the evil. In addition, he takes Chisholm’s suggestion that divine moral agency may be better pictured on an aesthetic analogy of God as Artist than on a narrowly ethical one. Further, he adopts Michael Murray’s proposal that a God-justifying account should be at least as plausible as not. In other words, it should be a “case for God” (or causa Dei), in Leibniz’s terms, rather than either a mere logical defense or fully blown theodicy.
This chapter is focused on versions of Only Way Theodicy, according to which Darwinian evolution was the only means by which God could have created a sufficiently valuable world. In short, creation by Darwinian means was the only way of world making open to God. The author gives reasons for skepticism towards this “only-way” intuition about God and creation. He then considers several prominent examples of the approach, and he concludes that none of them identifies evolutionary goods that either outweigh or defeat the evolutionary evils that scientists have unveiled. However, the evolutionary goods identified do generate partial justification for evolutionary evils, and they should be taken into serious account in the controversy. Further, he proposes that one version of this theodicy – John Haught’s version – is more promising than the others, for it calls attention to aesthetic properties of evolution that can become part of a different sort of theodicy, not built on an “only-way” ethical intuition, but rather on an aesthetic analogue for God.
John R. Schneider explores the problem that animal suffering, caused by the inherent nature of Darwinian evolution, poses to belief in theism. Examining the aesthetic aspects of this moral problem, Schneider focuses on the three prevailing approaches to it: that the Fall caused animal suffering in nature (Lapsarian Theodicy), that Darwinian evolution was the only way for God to create an acceptably good and valuable world (Only-Way Theodicy), and that evolution is the source of major, God-justifying beauty (Aesthetic Theodicy). He also uses canonical texts and doctrines from Judaism and Christianity - notably the book of Job, and the doctrines of the incarnation, atonement, and resurrection - to build on insights taken from the non-lapsarian alternative approaches. Schneider thus constructs an original, God-justifying account of God and the evolutionary suffering of animals. His book enables readers to see that the Darwinian configuration of animal suffering unveiled by scientists is not as implausible on Christian theism as commonly supposed.
Within a participatory framework of metaphysics, evil is characteristically seen as a matter of privation. If all being, characterfulness, and action are had by creatures as a participation in, or from, God, then evil is a failure or occlusion of that participation. In this chapter, evil-as-privation is explored in terms of evil as washed-out, senseless, and always taking a form that is strictly relative to the particular good of the particular creature. The chapter ends with a discussion of the non-concurrence of God in evil, and how it might be that evil is possible. Evil is seen to have the character of non-relation between creatures.
In the third section of the book, a range of topics from doctrinal or systematic theology are considered, building on the survey of the first part of the book, which had dealt mainly with the doctrines of God and of creation. This chapter turns to Christology: to the doctrine of the Person of Christ and of the Incarnation, where participatory language and thinking have also been important. This is worked through in terms of a number of central contentions in traditional Christology. It also brings some less-often-considered aspects of the doctrine of Christ to the surface, such as Christ's participation in God through growth in virtues. A participatory account of Christology can bear witness to the full revelation and presence of God in, and as, Christ. This is contrasted with kenotic Christology.
Is the human mind uniquely nonphysical or even spiritual, such that divine intentions can meet physical realities? As scholars in science and religion have spent decades attempting to identify a 'causal joint' between God and the natural world, human consciousness has been often privileged as just such a locus of divine-human interaction. However, this intuitively dualistic move is both out of step with contemporary science and theologically insufficient. By discarding the God-nature model implied by contemporary noninterventionist divine action theories, one is freed up to explore theological and metaphysical alternatives for understanding divine action in the mind. Sarah Lane Ritchie suggests that a theologically robust theistic naturalism offers a more compelling vision of divine action in the mind. By affirming that to be fully natural is to be involved with God's active presence, one may affirm divine action not only in the human mind, but throughout the natural world.
This account of evil takes the Book of Job as its guide. The Book of Job considers physical pain, social bereavement, the origin of evil, theodicy, justice, divine violence, and reward. Such problems are explored by consulting ancient and modern accounts from the fields of theology and philosophy, broadly conceived. Some of the literature on evil - especially the philosophical literature - is inclined toward the abstract treatment of such problems. Bringing along the suffering Job will serve as a reminder of the concrete, lived experience in which the problem of evil has its roots.
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